Objects | Inventions and Firsts


Bob Bagnall’s Sliding Seat, 1871

Discovery Museum, Tyne and Wear

Firsts, Sport

1800 – 1899

This sliding seat was used by the Tyneside oarsman, Robert Bagnall, in an important race on the River Tyne, 22 November 1871. It was the first time sliding seats were used on the Tyne. The other crew, also mostly Tynesiders, used fixed seats.

At this time Tyneside rowers were considered the best in the world. One reason for this superiority was their long rowing stroke. They created a longer stroke than was usual by using a sliding motion on fixed seats.

In 1870 a sliding seat was developed by the American J C Babcock to reproduce mechanically this sliding motion. Bagnall and the other members of his crew had seen these sliding seats in action on a visit to America in the summer of 1871.

Bagnall’s crew won the race and as a result the sliding seat was quickly adopted by rowing crews across the world.

By Robert Jewitt (active 1840 – 1876)
On display at Discovery Museum, ground floor Newcastle Story Gallery (Victorian era), Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

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